Writing about Thursday
I am losing count of when I last did the blog so I think I had just had the van delivered on Wednesday and had a trip over the Banks Peninsula to try her out. Planning the days and trying to get to see as much of this lovely country as I can, I have decided to see if I can have Betty for an extra couple of days and then spend a bit of extra time here in the South Island.
There is a Trans Alpine Highway from Christchurch to the West coast going via Arthur’s Pass (924m)so I made that my trip on Thursday - I had in mind to do a walk there- having brought my walking boots all this way I thought I better use them!!! There are not enough words in the english language to describe all the scenery here..it’a a livng Geography lesson too, you can almost see erosion taking place. The road over and up to the Pass - steep and winding - goes through some wide braided river valleys and stunning views all round, you almost gasp as you come across another landscape - at Castle Hill Reserve there were some amazing limestone rocks sticking up all over . Beech forests at Craigieburn -and the autumn colours are fabulous - this is a good time of year to come here.
Arthur’s Pass Village doesn’t have much there but a few an info site, tourist shops/cafes and accommodation - and a lot of these places are used in the ski season. I found out about a walk to the Devil’s Punchbowl - a waterfall and it was 1 hour walk - so I put my boots on a set off. Well nobody told me that it was going to be an hour of walking up steps and then down again... there must have been at least 300 steps -some cut into the path and others wooden steps... good cardiovascular exercise. And the annoying thing was I had left my walking stick at home cos I couldnt get it in my little suitcase, so I really missed not having it...but I wasn’t gonna be beaten I kept thinking about always Michael walking everywhere we went no matter how hard it might have been for him. So, knackered, I made it to the waterfall and then staggered back down and got the photos to prove it!!! The trip back to Christchurch was beautiful as traveling in the opposite direction on the same road you see different vistas and the light was so beautiful in the afternoon. I stopped at Lake Pearson for a little picnic -love the convenience of the campervan - this was a bird sanctuary for some special grebes ( only250 left) and I think I saw one as well as some black swans. The river valleys are huge and so wide , I cannot imagine what they are like after the snow....and judging by the size of the rocks in the riverbeds they certainly transport some stuff. So one more important thing to do before I set off for the snowy mountains of the deep South was to stop and buy a wooley hat and gloves and a walking stick. I had been looking for a hat but they were all handknitted and sold in craft shops with posh labels on them (Handknit by Jenny) etc and cost about 15 pounds- gloves 20pound!!!! I was wishing I had brought my knitting needles I could have knocked out a few hats every night and sold them from the back of the van for a discount!!! But on the way back from the Pass I found a little cafÃ© and there were nice hats and gloves -(not costing an arm and a leg) and a good German walking stick - so I was all equppied for my trip south on Friday.
Spent a nice evening with Diane and Dave - he showed me his Model A Ford ( in bits in the garage) - he’s a bit of a collector of “things” but swears he has got rid of a lot of them ...I was glad Michael only collected books!!! They are good fun and we finished the evening with a glass of Cointreau and Dave paying on his Cornet....me singing along when we had stopped laughing.
Thanks , Dave , a night to remember! Intervac hosts are full of surprises.
Leaving Christchurch - but I will be back at the end of next week and left one of my cases there with my hot-weather clothes on it....not gonna need a dress and shorts where I am going.
Decided to take the straight route Highway 1 for first part of the journey and it was straight and boring road as well as windy, so the van was buffeted about a bit...I would rather drive the mountain roads. But it gave me the chance to see the Canterbury Plains and all the agriculture there which include sheep and cows and alpacas and deer!!! Once I came off that route at a very nice little town called Geraldine - I had just bought myself a hot water bottle and food supplies in anticipation of my first night sleeping in Betty when it started to pour with rain - and I thiught that’s it my luck has changed - I will be rained in in the mountains and mnever get to see anything... but had only driven about another Â½ hour when the sun came out and there were the Southern Alps looking magnificent.
The road from Geraldine was straight and lined with beautiful yellow trees -birches - I think and framed in the trees were snow-capped mountains...I feel like I am stepping into a calender most of the time. These were pretty rolling hills and lush and then I came in the wide plains and river valleys again - through Burkes Pass and then on to Lake Tekapo- turquoise water like I have seen before in the Rockies...breath-taking. Stopped and had a picnic of course.
Plan was to drive to Mount Cook and I was getting nearer and the sky was still clear and sunny so I went to the Tekapo airport and asked about a flight over the Mt - but unfortunately it was too windy and bad weather on the other side of Mt Cook so they weren’t flying - great pity. Mount Cook lies at the end of a valley of Lake Pukkaki so I headed for there and again it was stunning (probably running out of superlative words so will have to repeat myself)- turquoise and shimmering in the sun with snow on the top peaks, it’s a long lake so you are just driving and saying wow, wow to yourself on every bend!!! There’s campervan park and activity centre along the lake -Glentanner Park and I checked there to make sure there were plenty of spaces available -there were lots of course -it’s pretty quiet at the moment . So another 20 minutes and you come to Mount Cook Village almost at the end of the valley...so I went in the Old Mountaineer’s Hut
(newly renovated- very nice) - couldn’t find a nice old mountaineer so I settled for a hot chocolate by the fire!!! You couldn’t see the peak of Mount Cook as there were clouds but I wasn’t giving up hope there was always tomorrow.
I drove back along the valley and settled in to the campervan park and the evening passed nicely cooking myself a proper dinner - lamb chops and veggies and a bottle of wine- no I didn’t drink it all!!! There’s a little fan heater which I put on for an hour-and I was quite cosy and I went to bed early with my hottie...and my MP3.
So all was not lost as in the mroning the sky was clear and I was up early to see the sunrise and had views of Mount Cook just down the Valley from the campsite and also as I drive back down the side of the lake and on towards Queenstown...but I will tell you about that in my next blog.
Much love to all.
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